The poll, commissioned by the 1994 Group of small research-intensive universities, found that 88 per cent of respondents trusted their parents, siblings or friends to give them good advice during the applications process.
This compared to 79 per cent who said they trusted independent websites as a good source of information, and 77 per cent who were happy to rely on teachers and careers advisors.
The study also found that 75 per cent of participants trusted official agencies, such as the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, while 67 per cent said they would turn to student discussion rooms for advice.
Janice Kay, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter and chair of the 1994 Group’s student experience policy group, said: “Good information means good decisions on where to apply and what courses to study.
“However, the vast range of information available can be quite bewildering.
“As the survey has shown, people are most likely to trust independent online information, alongside the personal views of real people.”
The poll comes at the 1994 Group, in partnership with publisher Push, launches an internet tool to provide links to university information websites, such as bestCourse4Me, Brightside and Unistats.
The ‘UniQs’ tool also provides advice from students and experts on the type of information provided by each site.